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Sandy Hook

I can’t help but think about how many unopened presents there will be on Christmas morning, for 20 young children in Connecticut.

What can we do besides pray for the departed and the loved ones left behind? We can have more patience with the children and people in our lives who are the hardest to be patient with. We can hug our kids a little longer. We can show our children that there are better

ways to achieve significance. We can realize that the present is called the present because it is a gift, given to us by God and that we should not let the memory of the present with our children be of sticking our heads into an electronic device. Look up. Watch your kids play. They think that’s cool and that you care – even though you may not see them look at you, they know when we are paying attention. 

We cannot change what has happened. We likely cannot even prevent the next one from happening. But we can appreciate what we do have, that is so precious and perishable. And we can do better at what we have been given, at who we are and who we want our children to become.

Why worry about the end of the world? The end of the world happens on the day you die, as it happened for 26 children and their caregivers today, unexpectedly. We don’t know when that is for any of us. So live boldly, love your life and give love to those in your life, whether they are your children, the person in line at Starbucks in front of you, or the guy that just cut you off in traffic, be patient (you’ve done it too), serve others (others have served you) and appreciate today, the present, this wonderful gift.

At this time, please also remember the first responders. Every police officer, fireman, emergency services and trauma healthcare workers knows they will see some tragedy in their lives, but no one is prepared for seeing 20 young lives extinguished so violently. Those are images that will stay with the responders the rest of their lives.

Finally, there will be a massive review of school security practices, as there is every time there is a shooting. We should be patient here. According to early reports, Sandy Hook had installed a security system, which may have been circumvented by the gunman breaking the glass. Should there be bullet proof glass then? Maybe an armed security guard in all schools? I’ve even heard that we should arm teachers. But if we do all that, what’s to stop an individual from gunning down our kids as they step off the school bus? Maybe we should arm bus drivers too. Maybe we should arm everyone. Being a gun owner myself, I’m in that unique dichotomous mindset that believes that while not everyone should own a gun, I myself should own a gun. It’s time for the this debate to begin. Previously, we’ve said, “this is not a time to debate, it’s a time for healing.” Unfortunately, after the healing and self-reflection is over, it’s six months later and no one cares until the next tragedy. This is the time – lock the extremists on both sides of this issue in a closet and let’s have a good discussion that doesn’t demonize each other, followed by effective, measurable action.

From outward appearances it looks like the school had already implemented reasonable security measures for the level of risk it expected to protect against. Let’s be careful before we turn our schools into fortresses, particularly against ineffective but “feel-good” measures that we may be forced to burden the already underfunded school system with. Let’s find out why this happened and then we can better determine if there was anything we could have done to prevent it.

When I see the heart wrenching images of the victims and hear the stories of teachers and administrators who gave their lives to save the children, I see the tremendous effect that taking personal responsibility can have. They couldn’t protect them all, but they protected who they could. We should all remember that we too can save lives – maybe it’s through better observation of others for pre-incident indicators. Maybe its by having a kind word for a friend or even a stranger. Maybe its having a wave, a nod of understanding and a smile for someone who just upset you, rather than an obscene gesture and a harsh word, knowing that you’ve made the same mistake at one point.

Maybe its through more loving and less judging. A local news station and our newspaper just did a series on the failings of the social work system that’s supposed to protect kids. Kids die needlessly everyday in our country. Think of the thousands of kids who are killed every year through abuse, neglect and carelessness and ask yourself, what can you personally do, to prevent the death of innocents – and of innocence.

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